Year In Review

    A review of how I feel about the blog over the year and the 200th post!


The Funeral Industry & Creating Disgruntled Outsiders

     This post comes from my experience trying to study the funeral industry, how many companies actively keep people out, creating 'outsiders'.  Which explains why most studies of the industry are negative and done without input or involvement from the industry.


Fetishism of The Dead Body

    In this post I explore our relationship with dead bodies and how we turn them into The Dead Body (TDB).  This was something I wanted to write as an essay and do properly back in early October.  But unfortunately I never found the time.  Instead enjoy this informal and casual post of mine, it was written for fun so with luck it should be fun to read.


Why Bodies Smell So Bad

    I have noticed a visceral and emotional reaction to the smell of bodies.  A reaction so strong that it goes beyond the physical sensation.  This article is not about the physical side of how bodies smell.  Instead it looks into why we take the smell of bodies so personally.


Hit & Run in Rookwood

    Recently I found a car involved in a hit and run at Rookwood.  It was only a small accident, but it does go to show how Rookwood is an active place full of people.  Not a silent cemetery which some perceive it to be.


Death & Funerals: Children

    In these series of posts I will be looking informally at the taboo nature of death and funerals.  This post looks at the relationship of children to death and funerals.


Death & Funerals: Shit

    In these series of posts I will be looking informally at the taboo nature of death and funerals.  This post focuses on how we avoid the topic.  Specifically how death is handled (and possibly thought of) in the same way as excrement.


Death & Funerals: Sex

    In these series of posts I will be looking informally at the taboo nature of death and funerals.  This post explores how death and funerals are like sex in our avoidance of them.


Death & Funerals: Life

    I have put together four articles looking at specific aspects of the taboo nature of death.  They are only short and rather basic, written more for fun and to brainstorm than to actually put something 'proper' together.  Basically I have been trying to read through some 'heavy' stuff.  Like Merleau-Ponty's "Phenomenology of Perception", which is an incredibly dense book.  So I felt like something a bit fun and light for a change of pace.  After all, it's the time of year when we should be relaxing a little and having fun!

    This post focuses on the separation of life and death, how this appears simple and clean.  But is actually blurry and loaded with controversy.


Funeral Company Relationships

    There is a surprisingly complex web of relationships between groups operating in the funeral industry.  Below I finally tackle this topic and attempt to explain how the various companies interact with each other.


Thanatourism: Northern Suburbs Crematorium

    Northern Suburbs Crematorium (NSC) is a small but beautiful crematorium in the Northern Suburbs of Sydney.  It is an historial place with great atmosphere and well maintained gardens.


Cooling Bed

    Recently I was invited by a celebrant to look at her cooling bed.  This is an interesting device used to keep the body cool at home.  It is a unique idea for Australia and so far remains relatively rare.


Survey Reminder !!!

    Every month I am going to have a reminder about the surveys, to gather up as many respondents as possible.  At least until I get what I feel is enough.

    All are relatively short, and take an average of 10 minutes or less each.  As always, the surveys are completely anonymous and confidential.  If there are any issues or questions do not hesitate to contact me: theothersideoffunerals@gmail.com.

First Survey - Funeral Company Knowledge:
    The first survey looks at how well people know the funeral companies operating in Sydney.  In this survey I explore memory (both recognition and recall) to see if people actually know and remember different companies.

    Anyone can do this survey, as the focus is on Sydney companies yet mand are national brands.  It is also applicable for both funeral staff and non-funeral staff.

    You can complete the survey by following the link below:

<> Unfortunately you have to copy and paste a url for certain questions.  I cannot embed the image, I understand it's not ideal, but it's the best I can do <>

    This survey might be most interesting to funeral companies, to see if their methods actually work.  Although it has several limitations, the point of this survey is to see if a certain concept is worth future exploration.

Second Survey - Funeral Attendance:
    The second survey is aimed at exploring funerals people have attended as a mourner.  There are a few things at work in this survey, the results could be rather useful.  While anyone can do this survey the focus is on the role of the mourner.

    You can complete the survey by following the link below:

    This survey is fairly simple, and aimed only at those who have attended a funeral as a mourner.  With luck the results might be quite informative of funeral practices and attitudes.

Third Survey - Age & Working Funerals:
    The third and final survey looks at age and funerals.  How we perceive the age of staff working in the industry and how age plays a role.  This survey is for funeral staff only, those who currently work or have worked in the funeral industry.

    You can complete the survey by following the link below:

    This survey explores a rather important and common issue in the industry.  Age and the funeral industry are contentious topics, so it would be interesting to investigate things like ageism.

Other & Future Work:
    If you are interested in participating in future research, as an individual or on behalf of a group/company, please email me: theothersideoffunerals@gmail.com.

    I am always looking for people willing to participate in a variety of studies about the funeral industry.  If you or anyone you know are interested in this please email me: theothersideoffunerals@gmail.com As always all information and participation will be kept confidential, no personal identity or details will be recorded.

    Alternatively you can leave a comment on this post, I will read all comments left on the blog.



Forest Lawn Cremating Drugs Investigation

    Recently I heard a rumour that Forest Lawn Crematorium had been used to destroy (via cremation) drugs by police.  Below I outline why I think this otherwise minor story is getting traction.


Blog Stats - 26/11/12

    Time for the monthly breakdown of views.  I find doing this is actually interesting, and helpful in many ways.  Hopefully others find it as interesting or informative as I do!


Thanatourism: Macquarie Park Cemetery & Crematorium

    Macquarie Park Cemetery & Crematorium (MCP) is a very interesting place, at least from my perspective.  It is a great example of modernisation in society and such a rich place for study.  But it is also a nice place to just visit casually.

    MCP has gone out of its way to make the place friendly.  From good staff to good grounds, this is a good place to have a picnic or explore for the day.


Funeral Advertisements

    Funeral advertisements are a debated topic.  Some see them as a negative thing, that ads aimed at the general public forget the individual and de-personalise the industry.  But these public ads also do a lot of good, they help to bring funerals back to the public.  As such grief and the funeral industry are made more acceptable.


Inside the funeral home: Walter Carter Funerals

    A while ago I spent a couple of hours with the CEO of Walter Carter Funerals.  It wasn't a study so much as a meeting.  But I learnt a lot and had a great time.  The CEO is incredibly knowledgeable  approachable and open.  No question or topic was inappropriate.


Misconceptions & Questions part 4

    Time for another round of questions and misconceptions!  Here are a few things I have heard, seen or been asked about the funeral industry.


The Funeral Industry is Not Alone

    Not long ago I wrote a post about how the funeral industry should be embracing the internet and public interaction.  That the funeral industry is very innovative, but reluctant to interact with the public.  So funeral companies tend to avoid the internet, which is often seen as a very public space.

    This problem is not just faced by the funeral industry.  Other organisations, systems and industries are also subject to these same issues.  Below is a good video which outlines how the academic system is encountering similar problems.  And how it will need to embrace change.

    The concept behind the video is very similar to what I was working with for the post.  It also illustrates that the funeral industry is not 'backward' or 'old fashioned'.  It is facing the same problems as modern academic systems.  The fact that the funeral industry faces these troubles only supports the idea that it is modern and current.

Open Access Explained!
By phdcomics.




Rethinking the Cemetery Role

    In this post I look at the changing views of cemeteries.  How our attitudes and perceptions around these places is changing.  But also how we use them is changing.  Cemeteries are being seen as more than just a place to store the dead.


Working Funerals - Neighbour calls police about body at funeral home

    Very recently I had a talk with the people at Divinity Funerals.  I was told a funny story about how one neighbour is reluctant to have a funeral home so close.

    One night there was a viewing in the funeral home chapel, nothing new.  After the viewing they were loading the coffin into the car to take back to the mortuary.  When suddenly "everything was blue and red" as police swamped them.

    It turned out the neighbour had seen them loading the coffin into the car, and called the police.  Saying how the neighbour was putting a dead body in a van.  Forgetting to mention that it was a funeral home and a coffin.  Naturally the police were not too impressed and quite apologetic to the funeral staff.  Saying how they would make a note in the system about that number, and they had told off the neighbour.

    It goes to show how reluctant some are to have a funeral home close to them.  Getting approval to build a new funeral home is incredibly difficult from councils and residents.

    My research is finding a main way people chose the funeral home is by how close it is to them.  When a death occurs people want the funeral place to be nearby, many say how this is convenient and nice.  Which is also evident by the way InvoCare spends so much to rent so many offices around Sydney.  Clearly they think it is financially worth it.

    Yet when there is no personal death most do not want the funeral home as a neighbour.  Other than when needed the funeral home should be distant to them, over there and not over here.  This is known as Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) to some.  How we want something close to us when we need it but distant when we don't.

    The funeral home is unfortunately stuck in this paradox.  The company needs to be close to residents and commercial areas for customers as this is a major decider for many customers.  But then the same people do not want the funeral home close when they are no longer customers.  Keeping the funeral home near but at arm's length.

    An unfortunate down side to this is it encourages superficial shop fronts and briefcase funeral directors.  The mortuary, where the dead are dealt with, are removed, confined to industrial areas.



Thanatourism: Woronora

    Woronora is a large cemetery located in the Shire area of Sydney.  I find it a nice place, quiet and peaceful.  But not quite as interesting as others.  Although it does have a unique history and does deserve its own place on this list.

    I am not writing a 'guided tour' of Woronora as I would recommend just wondering about freely.


What to call the industry?

    I have heard a few different names for the funeral industry.  The two most common being the "death-care" industry and the "grief" industry.  Unfortunately neither of these are accurate, and are in fact quite misleading.

    Here is why these two names are inaccurate and why I call it the "funeral industry".  After all, it's important to qualify and explain terms.


Working Funerals - Joining the industry

    This has come up a couple of times, where people ask me advice on how to get into the funeral industry.  It isn't a common question, but certainly one worth addressing.  As it also says something about the industry itself.


The InvoCare Investigators

    Quite a while ago I was at a funeral and noticed someone rather odd.  Someone I believe to be an 'InvoCare investigator'.


Working Funerals - Turning the coffin mistakes

    A while ago I wrote a post on how to turn the coffin after a service.  Just a basic guide for those who have limited experience with this.

    Since then I have been asked about mistakes that are made when turning the coffin.  What mistakes are made and how to avoid them.  Here are the four most common mistakes I have seen and how to prevent them.


Funeral Spam

    Recently I got the first bit of funeral related spam.  I find it odd that this email gets so little spam, considering it put it on the blog and other places so publicly.  But anyway, this spam amused me so I thought it deserved a post.

Click to enlarge.
    I took a screenshot on the ad in the email, then blanked out the contact details.  This way if it is just phishing or a scam it won't get anyone who looks at it.  Plus I do not allow advertising on the blog, I might talk of companies and let them have posts.  But only in the sense that they are explaining or describing themselves, not promoting a company.

    If anyone is interested they could track this down, but be aware that I have not checked to see if this is legitimate nor will I.


WNBull History

    This year WNBull turned 120 years old, a rather significant event for the company.  But WNBull is not very effective at describing itself to others.

    Seeing as I have been looking into the history of the funeral industry I thought it only appropriate to write a post with everything I know about Bulls rich history.


Children, Funerals & Death

    Children and funerals are a touchy and controversial topic.  Many are hesitant, reluctant even, to combine the two.  Choosing to keep children as far from funerals and death as possible.

    However some companies like Macquarie Park Crematorium and Eastern Suburbs funeral home are making a deliberate and conscious space for children.

NSW funeral home search terms

    This is just a short breakdown of search terms used to find funeral homes in NSW through google.  I looked at a few terms people use to find funeral homes.  As part of exploring how people think of the funeral industry.

    Originally this was just background research and possible evidence.  But I thought it interesting enough to get its own post.


My Perspective, Bias & the Blog

    Writing this blog over the last few months has been very educational for me.  I've learnt so much, and not just about the industry.  Something I have found, which I never even thought of, is that my perspective and assumed knowledge confuses people.  Things like my terminology, word choices and so on are strange and foreign to many.

    Here I describe my perspective, bias and how my assumed knowledge has sometimes confused the point.  That one has to write for ones audience and develop a completely different language and mind frame depending on the medium.


The Funeral Industry & the Internet: step forward or be left behind

    Overall the funeral industry has been quite late to the internet.  Even now the industry is still not truly active or taking advantage of the online opportunities.

    In this post I explain how the industry is not very internet active and why this is actually a big issue for the industry.  I also discuss why the industry is so hesitant of the internet, even at their own loss.

NSW Health Funeral Industry Regulations & Rules

    A while ago I read the NSW regulations and rules for the funeral industry as set out by the health department.  You can read them via the link below, this document is actually a really good summary of the rules and regulations.  Deliberately made easy to read by people outside the law field (like me), so do not avoid it thinking it will just be complex or boring!

    Strongly recommended for anyone interested in the industry:


    It should be noted that the law changes every so often, I have heard it changed again recently.  So this document from 2003 might not be exactly accurate.  But it gives a good idea and understanding.

    Also, NSW is the only state in Australia to have any real regulations.  Personally I think InvoCare might have had something to do with this, as NSW is by far their strongest area from what I can work out.  Of course I cannot prove this, or even be relatively sure as I have not really looked into it.  But it makes sense, InvoCare is very into OH&S and decent standards.  Anecdotal evidence suggests InvoCare has improved the industry standards.  Thus I loosely reason that InvoCare has directly or indirectly helped to bring regulation to the industry.



Funeral Rights - a critique

    This has been on my to-do list for a while, to review 'Funeral Rights' by Robert Larkins.  It is the only book of its kind that I can find on the Australian funeral industry.

    Unfortunately it is not a good book in many ways, nor is it a good representation of the funeral industry.  So I have decided to pick out a couple of faults with it.


Strange Last Request

    I've heard of some odd last requests, but this one is probably the strangest.  A husband decided to honour his recently deceased wife by having an "exact" replica of her vagina carved onto her gravestone.  The wife had apparently requested this, and even took photos to be used by the sculpter.

    Apparently the hardest part was finding a sculptor who would agree to do the work.  The article states how most called it "blasphemy".  Personally I think this is very wrong, it is not the job of the sculptor (or undertaker) to decide if it is right or wrong.  If that was the request then it should be honoured without prejudice or judgement.  One might not agree with the request, but it does not make it right or wrong.




Update & Contacting the Funeral Industry

    Well, I went from struggling to find things to write about to having too much.  There is simply so much I need to get out before December.  Too much in fact that I will fall behind if I do not start posting more often.

    My essays have just fallen so far behind to the point that I haven't even started one which was meant to be finished by now.  I wanted to write about our fetishism and bondage to the dead body as part of my goal to define The Dead Body in society.  How we emphasise The Dead Body, it becomes more than just A dead body.  I also wanted to explore my concept of Social Sanitation and InvoCarenisation this month.  So much for that!

    From now on I'll be posting randomly, about once a day (maybe more), at least until I reach a certain point.  So get ready!

    I'll take this opportunity to discuss my results (if they can be called such) of contacting the funeral industry.  Over a two week span I rang 20 funeral homes.  As there are so many funeral homes I had to limit my search somehow, so I only contacted those I could easily find on google maps.  I will also include Lady Anne Funerals in this count, even though I contacted them a while ago I think they count.

    Of these 20 funeral homes 2 said yes, Lady Anne and Walter Carter.  All other 18 said "no" or "we will call you back".  Mostly I spoke with middle management, such as location managers and such.  In almost every case they thought it was a very good idea and were very positive.  One or two even sounded excited by the prospect of a study.  Unfortunately these people were not high enough or the right people to green light a study.  Instead they told me they would suggest it to the right person and get back to me.

    In the cases where I did get the boss or owner almost everyone said no or that they would call me back.  I found these people to come in one of two types (broadly speaking).  Either they were incredibly positive and informative, talking with me for quite a while in some cases.  Or they simply said no, not interested, not possible or not practical.  Every one of these people I spoke with was very polite, some even sounded guilty or bad when they said no.

    Other times (although not too often thankfully) I would get an 'abrupt' person.  One funeral home in particular stood out like this.  As soon as I said what I wanted the person had lost interest, clearly I was not a customer thus not on their radar.  They didn't even ask for my details, such as name or contact info.  I had to 'emphasise' this in the hope they wrote it down and would pass it on.  But I have no doubt this never happened.

    In almost every case when I contacted a funeral home and explained my intent (to study them) I was faced by an awkward silence.  It became quite funny and predictable actually.  I would ring the funeral home, tell them how I wanted to do a study and have a strange silence await me.  They were unsure what to say, if it was a prank, or even what I meant.  It was obviously a rather unusual question.  I became quite amused by it after a while, it was just such a predictable and strange thing.  The silence would even last about the same length every time, about 5 seconds.

    After this I contacted two cemeteries/crematoriums.  The first was Macquarie Park, who have been more than positive.  In fact we have developed a nice relationship in a relatively short time and looks like we might be working together quite a bit in the future.  The other crematorium I talked with was Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park at their open day.  We have yet to take it further, but it's only early days.  The staff there were incredibly open and friendly, so I have high hopes for ESMP.

    This is where it stands currently.  I plan on contacting various religious orders and other similar groups who have a special relationship with the industry.  But I intend to study the funeral homes with or without their help.  It's quite easy, been done by others in the past and might have to be done by me. I will do two main things: the first is attend funerals as a mourner and observe staff and how they work.  The second is pretend to plan funerals, ring up for quotes and advice as well as get friends to also do this.  I would much rather study the industry from within, and let companies have an input.  But either way I do intend to study the industry.


Funeral Fun - Holding hands

    Recently I was at a funeral when something rather amusing happened at the graveside.  It's about time I did a 'funeral fun' anyway!


Thanatourism: Rookwood

    Rookwood is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere.  It has a rather interesting history and is a wonderful cross-section of Sydney population over time.  Originally it was intended and designed for leisure, as a place for people to enjoy.  Because it was quite a trip out of Sydney they deliberately designed it for people to spend the whole day there.  When one went to visit a grave they would also enjoy the place.

Hidden exhibition.
    Unfortunately this has vanished, as people distanced themselves from funerals after WWI.  So Rookwood was confined to state of avoidance.  People now only go here for a funeral or to visit a specific grave.  Almost nobody visits Rookwood just to explore.  A state which would make the original planners quite sad.

    In this post I explain how to visit Rookwood.  Some things to see, which ways to go and so on.  In the hopes of getting some to use it as intended.  It genuinely is an amazing place to have a picnic, equal to Waverley Cemetery or Hyde Park.


New Surveys !!!

    I have put together three separate surveys to explore different concepts within the funeral industry.  All three surveys will be very useful to me (and others) so please, do them if you have the time.

    They are all relatively short, and take an average of 10 minutes or less each.

    As always, the surveys are completely anonymous and confidential.  If there are any issues or questions do not hesitate to contact me: theothersideoffunerals@gmail.com

First Survey - Funeral Company Knowledge:
    The first survey looks at how well people know the funeral companies operating in Sydney.  In this survey I explore memory (both recognition and recall) to see if people actually know and remember different companies.

    Anyone can do this survey, as the focus is on Sydney companies yet mand are national brands.  It is also applicable for both funeral staff and non-funeral staff.

    You can complete the survey by following the link below:

<> Unfortunately you have to copy and paste a url for certain questions.  I cannot embed the image :( so I understand it's not ideal, but it's the best I can do <>

    This survey might be most interesting to funeral companies, to see if their methods actually work.  Although it has several limitations, the point of this survey is to see if a certain concept is worth future exploration.

Second Survey - Funeral Attendance:
    The second survey is aimed at exploring funerals people have attended as a mourner.  There are a few things at work in this survey, the results could be rather useful.  While anyone can do this survey the focus is on the role of the mourner.

    You can complete the survey by following the link below:

    This survey is fairly simple, and aimed only at those who have attended a funeral as a mourner.  With luck the results might be quite informative of funeral practices and attitudes.

Third Survey - Age & Working Funerals:
    The third and final survey looks at age and funerals.  How we perceive the age of staff working in the industry and how age plays a role.  This survey is for funeral staff only, those who currently work or have worked in the funeral industry.

    You can complete the survey by following the link below:

    This survey explores a rather important and common issue in the industry.  Age and the funeral industry are contentious topics, so it would be interesting to investigate things like ageism.

Other & Future Work:
    If you are interested in participating in future research, as an individual or on behalf of a group/company, please email me: theothersideoffunerals@gmail.com.

    I am always looking for people willing to participate in a study of ageism, and to a lesser extent sexism, within the funeral industry.  If you or anyone you know are interested in this please email me: theothersideoffunerals@gmail.com.  As always all information and participation will be kept confidential, no personal identity or details will be recorded.

    Alternatively you can leave a comment on this post, I will read all comments left on the blog.



ESMP open day

    Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park had its open day this weekend.  It was a great day, so much to do and a wonderful atmosphere.  But what made it special was how open and relaxed the staff and company was.

    This was the last public social event for the funeral industry (that I know of).  And it was a great day, a perfect way to end the social calendar for the industry.


Blog Stats - 28/10/12

    I thought it would be appropriate to update the blog stats, so this month can be compared with last month.  I don't think this will become a regular thing, but this month has been particularly interesting.


Thanatourism: Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park

    Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park Cemetery & Crematorium is an older cemetery in Eastern Sydney.  This cemetery is mostly focused on 'ethnic' cultures, so the graves tend to be rather colourful and diverse.  Of all the cemeteries in Sydney ESMP has the most variety of graves in one section.

The more notable and unknown thing about it is the farm.  At the back of the cemetery, hidden behind a green fence there is a heritage Chinese farm.


The Bill

    Cost is a big issue in the funeral industry.  Many outside the industry might see the undertakers as just trying to rip them off pr profiting off greif. Thus try to get a discount or to avoid paying all together.  This is an unfortunately common issue.  Several undertakers have told me stories of how mourners have made up complaints to avoid the bill.  Or outright refused to pay.

    These are two different stories about the extreme mesures funeral companies went to get paid.


InvoCare - A description and discussion

    InvoCare is without doubt the largest funeral company in Australia.  As such everyone knows of InvoCare, and talks of them quite regularly.  I have found it is almost impossible to talk for any length about the funeral industry without mentioning InvoCare.

    Despite this not everyone knows much about the company.  In fact many know quite little, even some of InvoCare's own employees.  So I decided to answer a few questions and misconceptions at once in one post.  Here I discuss the company and summarise everything I know and think of InvoCare.


Thanatourism: Waverley Cemetery

    I am putting together a series of posts encouraging thanatourism.  The visiting of funeral sites (in this case cemeteries and crematoriums) for recreation.

    To start the series I begin with Waverley Cemetery, one of the most beautiful places in Sydney.  Perched on a cliff in Bronte is has wonderful views of the ocean.  The many historic white graves make the view even more impressive.

    This post has photos and a suggested walking path through the cemetery.  To see some of the best bits while enjoying a comfortable route.


Funeral Fieldwork Information

    Over the past few days I have contacted several funeral homes around Sydney.  Asking about the possibility of doing a study of the company.  Most were quite positive, actually only one sounded hesitant.  Many even thought it was a good idea and sounded interested.  However, they were not able to give authority or even comment on the likelihood.  They said it would be brought up to the correct people and they would call me back.

    While this has only been a few days none have called back.  Unfortunate, but very understandable.  It is not an easy decision to make for a funeral home.  I do not expect many replies soon.  I also expect most will say 'no'.

    So I've decided to help make this decision easier.  In this post I write about what my 'study' would involve, my aims and so on.


Guest Post - Cemetery & Crematorium Price Guide

    These are some cemetery and crematorium price guides.  They were sent to me anonymously from someone in the funeral industry.  I don't know if they are accurate, or even how old they are.  But they are interesting.

Facebook & YouTube page

    I have finally gotten around to organising a Facebook page for this blog, which you can see here.

    The main point of this page is to post photos of various things.  Especially of funeral photos that don't quite fit in a section on the blog.  Facebook lets you view the photos in a larger format than the blog, so you can see more detail.  I've already uploaded a few albums, so check it out!

    Also, I created a youtube account.  Mostly as a place to find and collect funeral related videos.  You can view the youtube account here.  This account is not very active, I only use it ever so often to find videos.  But subscribe if you want random (and rare) updates on youtube videos.

Facebook page:

Youtube account:



ESMP Cemetery & Crematorium Open Day

    Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park (also known as Botany Cemetery to some) will have an open day on  Saturday the 27th of October.  It looks like a fun day, with a tour of the crematorium and funeral home, face painting, displays, a sausage sizzle and much more.

When: 27/10/12 - 11:00am to 02:00pm.
Where: Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park Cemetery & Crematorium.
Cost: Free.

More information

Event Calendar

My guide about the cemetery and crematorium, including how to get there, maps, where to park and more.


Stats issue - update

    Someone just emailed me about the 'popular posts this month' being a bit odd.  Turns out the blog stats have been reset to zero.  They're up to about six, but essentially they have been reset.

    I'm not the only one with this issue, a quick google turns up several people asking about it in the last 40minutes.  So I'll just sit back and let it sort itself out.  It is a shame in a way, the blog was going to hit 5,000 total views today.  But nothing I can do except wait and hope it is fixed in time.  It'd be a shame to lose the old stats, but won't impact too much on what I do.

    But I'll say thanx for the 5,000 views anyway!!  It's nice to have people actively reading the blog.  I get an odd sense of accomplishment from this.  Which is odd considering the blog started out as something solely for me, a place to store and collect stuff.  But it has become so much more!  It has become something I do for others as well as for me.  The blog regularly has over 100 views per day, and will soon have over 200 views per day.

    A very big thank you to those who have contributed so far (you know who you are), without you many posts would not have been possible.  Companies and individuals alike, you have been helpful and motivating.

    Here's to 10,000 views!  With luck we can celebrate it together soon :)

    Looks like the stats are back, but it's missing todays views.  Can't complain really, they fixed the issue quickly and everything's back in order.

    I found it interesting, reading the complaints and issues.  People noticed the stats reset considerably quickly.  Within 20 minutes of the reset there were questions popping up.  Just goes to show how important stats are to people and blogs.  They are a measure of success, growth, direction and more.



Inside the funeral home: Lady Anne Funerals

    Recently I spent a day at Lady Anne Funerals in West Ryde, behind the scenes observing how they operate.  I first met a few Lady Anne staff at the Rookwood open day.  They were quite open to the idea of me going to observe and study their operations.  Rare considering the paranoia and secrecy in most of the funeral industry.

    This is about my day inside Lady Anne Funerals, what I saw and what it was like.  I had a great day and learnt a lot.  Lady Anne Funerals is a wonderful company with great staff.


Inside a Mortuary - Again

    I posted these photos and videos of various funeral home mortuaries in mid September.  In under a month that post has been viewed over 100 times, making it the second most popular post on this blog.

    So here's a few more pictures of inside a funeral home mortuary.  Enjoy!


Working Funerals - Cleaning the car

    Most people might not find this post helpful, or even that interesting.  But for others this should make cleaning the car faster and result in a better job.  It took me 20 minutes to completely clean the exterior of my car.  There wasn't a spot of dirt on it by the time I finished.

    Cleaning cars is a big part of the morning routine and the job in general.



    I'm really behind for this blog and other things.  So until I catch up here's a short post to clear a few things up.

    In it I discuss my future plans, how to submit guest posts and why most submissions do not get published and so on.


Modernity in the Funeral Industry: A look at Disneyization and McDonaldization in the Australian funeral industry

    This is my third essay on modernity in the funeral industry.  In these essays I am taking concepts from tourism studies and applying it to the funeral industry to show how the two industries are quite similar.

    I have found that many consider the funeral industry to be 'old fashioned' and traditional.  Yet this is not really the case as the funeral industry is modern industry, with large international corporations, mass consumption models and so on.

    In this essay I apply two key concepts of modernisation to the funeral industry.  Essentially both of these concepts come out of tourism and are used to explain modernity in society.  You can read my abstract below, and find the link to the whole essay.


An Inside Look: Macquarie Park Cemetery & Crematorium

    This is a re-write of this old post where I look at Macquarie Park Cemetery & Crematorium.  The original post was written a while ago, and now I have more photos and information.  So it's only appropriate I write a new post in the wake of the open day.


Guest Post - The Calling & Ageism

    Here's a story from a short current undertaker, on why she joined the industry.  It is a good look at the type of people in the industry and the passion of many of those people.  Many refer to joining the industry as a 'calling'.

    This is also a good example of ageism in the industry.  How younger undertakers are perceived by others.  I certainly experienced things similar to this, and heard how others were looked down on or ignored due to being "too young".

    Anyway, it is a good and light read for a friday.

Hospital guide help

    I'm trying to build a guide for how to do transfers in hospitals around Australia (mostly focusing on Sydney).  However for this I will need some help as things change and I have only been to a few hospitals regularly.  So I'm asking for others to contribute, to help build the guide for yourself and for others.

     This old hospital transfers post has a brief description of what a hospital transfer is and gives a few examples of some Sydney hospitals.  But it isn't very comprehensive and only has a small selection of hospitals.  Some of which have updated since I wrote the post (such as RPA).
    My plan is to remove the examples from that post and create a whole new updated post where I have more hospitals.  That way others could just refer to that post and know how to do a transfer in any hospital in Sydney, even without having been there before.  It would be a great tool for those new to the industry.

    But I don't have enough information to do it myself.  So I need help from others.  To do this I have created a google document.  Anyone can edit it and add content, and it is completely anonymous.

    I would greatly appreciate any contributions!! -- & thank you in advance to those who help :)



Blog Stats - 27/09/12

    This is just a breakdown of blog statistics.  Things like who views the blog, how the views have changed over time, most popular posts and so on.  I find it interesting and that it possibly says something about those who are interested in reading this type of thing.


Rookwood open day

    The Rookwood open day was a blast.  There was so much to see and do, even though I was there almost 5 hours I only saw a few of the things on offer.  Everyone was nice and happy and the atmosphere was wonderful.

    Overall this was a great day, easily able to compete with any festival or open day in Sydney.  You can read my detailed explination of the day below.


Deathsanitation & Social Sanitation

    This post is just a write up on some of my notes about an interesting concept.  I have told a few people here and there about something I call Social Sanitation.  And they have asked for more.  About what it is, about what it means and so on.  So here is a ... longish post about the concept of Social Sanitation.

    It is a really interesting, and relevant concept.  It can be seen in everything from daily shopping to funerals.  And it does have big connotations about society and who we are.  So this post should be well worth reading, if you can and want to get through it :)  You should find it rewarding and provoking!


Rookwood open day Photos

    The open day was amazingly great!  I had a lot of fun and learnt so much.  Everyone was friendly and up for a chat.  There was so much to see and do, I was there from 9:15am to 2:30pm and I didn't get to do everything.

    I'll write a popper post about the day later, when I have time.  But for now enjoy a selection of the 298 pictures I took.


The Process - From death to funeral

    This is the process of how a body gets from the place of death to the funeral.  Not many people think about this, and even fewer know about it.  Here it is, step by step in a simple guide from when the person dies to when the coffin is sent on the funeral.


Making an Order of Service

    In previous posts I have talked about the importance of the order of service.  How it is a piece of the funeral which people can take and keep.  Or those who could not make it to the funeral can have.  This apparently simple paper is such an emotional and significant thing.

    Having worked on funerals I got to see many different order of services books.  Some were good, some were amazing, others were terrible.  So I thought it was about time I explained how to make a decent order of service.


Inside a Mortuary

    I have been asked a few times about what a mortuary is like.  Few people have seen a mortuary in person.  The only time most of us have any experience with a mortuary or morgue is on TV.  I tell people the mortuary isn't really like what is show on TV.  But this leaves people with a puzzled look, wondering "well, what is it like then?"

    Here are a collection of pictures I took inside a funeral home mortuary.  As well as a few videos and other things  by others which show a mortuary.


An Inside Look: Rookwood

    At over 314 hectares Rookwood Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere (and thus Australia).  It is also the largest active Victorian cemetery in the world.  More than a million people have been buried at Rookwood since it opened in the 1860s.  It is so large that it had to be divided up and run by different organisations.  Many of which are religious based.  So one should think of Rookwood as several different cemeteries all in one place.  
    Rookwood might be the most diverse cemetery in the world.  While other cemeteries are bigger Rookwood has a huge variety of religions and cultures.  A good representation of the Sydney population.

    I have had trouble writing this post.  Rookwood is such as large and complex place that I really didn't know where to start.  Instead I wrote a few little posts and then put them together.  Hopefully this will give a good overall representation of Rookwood.  But with the open day only a week away I had to get this post finished.

    This post is divided into four parts.  The first looks at getting to and around Rookwood.  The second is a brief discussion of the history.  The third is an explanation of the different groups operating in Rookwood.  Finally the forth part is just a few extra details and information.


A Personal Death - Another funeral

Front of the order of service.
    With my grandmothers funeral only a few months after my grandfathers we simply stuck with the same funeral home.  It was familiar and convenient and everyone was happy enough with the job they did last time.  The last funeral was not perfect, but not that bad really and the staff were nice.

    This is my experience and opinions of my grandmothers funeral.  It was an 'interesting' event.


A Personal Death - The music

    In the last series of posts about my grandfathers funeral I came to a few interesting realisations.  The importance of the Order of Service.  How emotionally significant it is and how it is a piece of the funeral in many ways.  The other was the roles we play.  How being an undertaker has changed my view of funerals and how different it is from the perspective of a mourner.

    With my grandmothers funeral this was no different.  I realised a new thing and explored another in more detail.  This time my realisation was the music, how much is put into it and how trivial it actually is.


The Day Sheet

    It is about time I talked about the "day sheet".  The day sheet is an important part of being an undertaker.  As someone said to me in my first week "the day sheet is our bible".

    The day sheet lists all the funerals that are happening on the day.  Who will be on what funeral, where the funeral is going, who is driving whats cars, where the cars are going and the times for everything.  Simply it has all the vital information of the day for the undertakers.

    Some undertakers have stories about how they did not read the day sheet properly and how much trouble it caused.  Every morning as the undertakers start work they get a copy of the day sheet.  They then read it over and carry it throughout the day.  This way everyone knows what they are meant to do and if needed what others are doing and where everyone is.

    This one tiny sheet of paper is vital to the daily duties of an undertaker.  Paperwork is very important in this industry.  However little or insignificant it might appear, every bit of paper is crucial in some way.



Macquarie Park Open Day

    The other day I attended the Macquarie Park Cemetery & Crematorium open day.  It was actually a fairly good day.  Not as much as I would have liked.  But a fun and friendly atmosphere with enjoyable stuff to do and see.

    When I got hope I posted the pictures I took here.  But I didn't have time to explain them.

A Personal Death - Again

    A while ago my grandfather died.  At the time I wrote about my experiences with it, arranging the funeral, the funeral itself and some interesting things I had never noticed or thought of before.  Now, just a few weeks ago my grandmother has also died.  So, now I am finally back in Sydney it's time I wrote about this funeral.

    Having the experience of the other funeral so recently this one was fairly different.  The circumstances behind her death were also different.  Overall it was a pleasant experience, but there are some observations and thoughts about it.


Macquarie Park Open Day - Photos

    This is just the photos I took today at the Macquarie Park open day.  I will write an actual post about it tomorrow when I get time.  In the mean time enjoy some pictures!


Historic NZ Funeral Bill From 1981

    While going through paperwork at my grandmothers we cam across this interesting receipt.  It's from an old funeral in New Zealand, dated 1981.  I found this document fairly interesting and useful.


Gazing Mourners: Exploring the relationship between mourners and the funeral industry

    This is the second essay where I compare the funeral industry with the tourism industry.  Surprisingly enough the two are such similar industries in almost every way.  This essay looks at the idea of funeral companies shaping the industry at the mourners expense.

    Follow the links below to read the essay.  Or read my short abstract if you dont want to read the whole thing.


Inside Look: Castlebrook Memorial Park

    CastlebrookMemorial Park is located in Western Sydney.  It is a relatively new place and there is actually little information about it.  Other than my personal experiences and opinions (which I describe below) it is unknown and un-described.

    Castlebrook  is InvoCare owned and operated.


Undertakers & Planning Their Funeral

    A common question certain people ask those in the funeral industry is if they have thought about or prepared for their funeral.  Thinking about it I noticed something interesting and odd.  How those in the funeral industry saw and experienced the inside of the industry yet their attitudes to their own funeral were not what I expected.


6 Feet Deep

    There is a popular idea that all graves are generally dug 6 feet deep (or 1.8 meters).  It is so common that we can see it in many songs, movies, TV Shows, books, poems and so on.  Yet, like with many other common assumptions with the funeral industry it is wrong.  A grave can easily be deeper or shallower than this depending on the circumstance.  So in this post I will address this common assumption and look at how deep a grave can be or actually is dug in NSW.


Survey Data - First Round

    This is the results of my survey so far.  If you have not taken the survey yet please do so by clicking >>this link here<< or copy and paste the url provided below.  And a massive thank you to those who have done the survey!  It was very informative and helpful :)

    Unfortunately there are not many participants, so while the data is interesting (even surprising) it is not very accurate or reliable yet.  But either way it is interesting and informative.  So read on, it was fun to make the survey and hopefully the data will be fun to read!


Scattering Ashes

    The scattering of ash is rather relaxed in Australia.  While there are certain rules and guidelines (which i will cover) they are not too strickt.  In this post I will look at how ash can legally be scattered (or 'diposed' of) in Australia, how people view ash and some interesting ways that ash has been scattered.


Attending a Funeral: The Seating

    The seating is something which does throw some mourners.  It is not a common or serious issue, but it is something which obviously makes people unnecessarily uncomfortable.  In this post I look at where mourners should sit, as well as how they should sit.  As in how to make the whole event easier and better for everyone.


An Inside Look: Pinegrove

    Pinegrove Memorial Park is a cemetery and crematorium that is also a very important centre for InvoCare.  It is a relatively new place and as such it is notably different from other cemeteries.  For example the roads tend to be wider and the curb is slopped and low rather than high or square.

    Pinegrove is owned and operated by InvoCare.


Mourning Tourists: A comparison between the mourner and the tourist

    This is my second 'formal' essay about the funeral industry, and it is rather different to the first one.  While the first essay was about the nakedness of dead bodies and how we interact with the world around us this is about modernity and the funeral industry.  About how the modern funeral industry works and operates and what a modern funeral is.  In this essay I explore the idea of "the mourner" and what it is by comparing the mourner with the tourist.  As the essay is quite long I have provided a summary (or abstract) below along with a link to the full essay.


Working Funerals - Lowering the coffin

    This post is a how to guid on lowering the coffin at the cemetery.  It looks simple and easy but so many people do it wrong and risk injuring their back or damaging the coffin.  While written from the point of view of an undertaker this guide can also be handy for mourners.


An Inside Look: Woronora Cemetery & Crematorium

    Woronora is a cemetery and crematorium, the cemetery opened in 1895 and the crematorium opened in 1934.  It is a nice place with good staff.  While sometimes confusing to navigate it is actually fairly simple and one of the easiest cemeteries to find and navigate.

    It is run and owned by a trust.


Funeral Cortege Laws & Rights in NSW

    There are a lot of misconceptions about the funeral cortege, what it can do.  A while ago I wrote this post about how to drive in the funeral cortege as a mourner and this one as an undertaker.  But I did not really cover laws or rights.  I often got asked questions about the laws involving the funeral cortege and funeral cars.  So here is a post where I finally explain them!


Britain's Youngest Undertaker

    This is a fun little documentary about the youngest undertaker in Britain.  She is only just in high school but joins her father at his funeral company.

Britains Youngest Undertaker

    Two things struck me about this documentary.  The first was how everyone talked about embalming.  They were so hesitant and put off by it despite working in the funeral industry.  I have come across many undertaker who would never want to be embalmers, but none ever spoke of it like this.  For me it was just strange how put off they were by embalming.  The second thing that stood out was at the 20:56 mark when the father admitted that he was happy to have two young and pretty girls working at his funeral home.  How they would bring in more business due to being young and pretty.  The age and gender of his daughters was obviously a reason he was promoting them, encouraging them, and something he was using.  He was using their age and gender to sell the business.

    This is something that happens all the time in the funeral industry.  Gender is a selling point, just look at White lady Funerals who advertise all female staff.



Who is the Customer?

    The question of who is the customer at a funeral is one which I have been asked and debated a few times.  The reason this is an important question as it is asking who is really important at the funeral, who the funeral is aimed at and thus shapes our understanding of funerals and how they should proceed and where the priorities should be.

    Many debate whether the customer is (or should be) the deceased or mourner.  Basically whether the funeral is really for the dead or for the living or for both.

    So I will briefly outline how I define "the customer" in the funeral industry and why.  Some might not agree with me, but that only goes to prove how debatable this idea is.


Quality Funerals

    Quality of a funeral and a funeral home is something which does come up, especially with those in the industry or those who are interested in the industry.  What I have noticed is that many of these people use little procedures or practices to value a funeral home.  Things like which way they turn the coffin.  Yet most mourners do not notice these things, nor care when they are told about them.  The way an undertaker looks at a funeral is completely different from the way a mourner looks at it.

    From this we can learn a lot about the role of the mourner and of the undertaker and start to question what is actually important in a funeral.  How perhaps many of the practices on a funeral are more for the undertakers than the mourners.


Misconceptions & Questions - Part 3

    I thought it was about time I did another misconceptions and questions post.  To fix some errors and answer some questions I have received recently.    Here are 15 short misconceptions and questions I have either come across recently or regularly.



    Not too long ago I wrote an article 'The InvoCare Share' about how much of the industry InvoCare really owns.  After much research, questionable numbers and a bit of guessing and discussing it with others I came to the conclusion that InvoCare does about 25% of all national funerals.  Not the giants people think them to be.  However InvoCare does about 50,000 SpY (services/funerals per year) while the next biggest company does about 6,000 SpY.  Thus while InvoCare does not own as much of the industry as people think they are by far the biggest single company.

    This then lead to a few questions from people about InvoCare, how good they are, how they treat bodies and funerals as commercial objects and so on.  So I decided to write a little post on what I think of InvoCare.


Funeral Fun - Uncle Arthur

    Funerals are seen as a sad or depressing event.  But this is often not the case, especially for the staff work work funeral every day.  Undertakers learn to make jokes in almost every situation, the job is just that, a job.


Necrophilia & Misconduct

    After I wrote this essay on nakedness of the dead body I have been asked about necrophilia.  What I look at in the essay is about how we interact/entangle with the external world with the case study of dead bodies and nakedness.  That we do not simply 'see' a naked dead body before us but bring that body into our body, into ourselves and our being.

    While the essay is not about anything sexual or anything to do with necrophilia for obvious reasons this idea has sparked a couple of questions about necrophilia and misconduct in the funeral industry.  This is a touchy topic, very taboo and very personal.  So it is something I want to talk about in depth or detail in the future.  But until I have time a short post on how much it occurs will have to do.


Acceptance of Funeral Advertisements

    Advertising is something every company or organisation needs to actively do to survive.  To promote itself, to be known and to grow.  This is no different for the funeral industry, funeral homes must advertise themselves to grow their business.  Funeral homes who do not promote are destined to fade away.

    While this is usually rather easy it becomes tricky for the funeral industry.  The funeral home has to find the thin balance between appropriate promotion and inappropriate promotion.  A funeral home has to think long and hard about how, where, why and what it is promotion.


Short Video - The Embalming Room

    This is an interesting video showing and explaining the inside of a mortuary.  She goes through most of the tools and various techniques of the trade.  There's no actual procedures or bodies shown, just the tools and some parts of the room.  It's an interesting little video which should help educate those who have never been into a mortuary.

The Embalming Room - Women in the Funeral Industry (Funeral Divas)




The Naked Dead: How we engage with the dead through their nakedness

    I have written a short essay on how we engage and entangle with the world around us.  Specifically I look at nakedness and the dead body.  Through this I explore the idea that we connect with the dead body before us and bring it into our being.  We feel its nakedness and exposure, so we cover it up.

    This is the first 'formal' essay I have written on the funeral industry and for this blog.  It was rather interesting and fun to write, so I hope it's fun to read.  The essay itself is not too long but I have provided a short summary anyway.  


Slow Rise of Obesity - Part two: the preparation

  It is no debate, we are getting larger and fatter.  Yet what does this actually mean?  As in how are our attitudes and views changing and how is it affecting our lives?  To answer this I look to funeral and the funeral industry.  The funeral industry is a wonderful way to look at society.  To look at us, our attitudes, beliefs, how we go about our daily lives and so on.  This is because quite simply the way we live is the way we die, the two are directly connected.

This is why I decided to do a few detailed posts on obesity in the funeral industry as I experienced it and understand it.  Through looking at how obesity affects the funeral industry we can understand how it affects our lives.  My first post was on the transfer of obese bodies.  This post is on how we deal with and process the obese body.  What happens in the mortuary to the body and the coffin of obese bodies.


The Facts of Death Documentary

    This is a rather good documentary on what happens after death.  It looks at many aspects of the funeral industry and what happens after death.  The most interesting part for me was the way the industry has changed in such recent years.

The Facts of Death - Part 1 of 6

    The promotion of the companies at the start was also interesting.  It really sums up the way things work, that this documentary was funded by these companies thus it needs to advertise them.  So I wonder how bias it could be, does the documentary skip things that would make the companies look bad?  Does it emphasise things that make the companies look good?  I doubt it, from what I saw it was relatively unbiased and just looked at the funeral system rather than companies.  Yet because of the ads at the start I am left wondering how directed this documentary was by the companies.

    Either way, a rare and insightful look into funeral and the funeral system!